Republicans have a plan to combat high prescription drug prices, without reverting to socialist price controls.
When I was a practicing pharmacist, I witnessed seniors trying to decide whether to pay for their medicine or pay for their groceries. I witnessed mothers crying because they couldn’t afford their children’s medicine.
No parent, no person, should ever be forced to make that decision. On that point, my Democrat colleagues and I seem to agree. But good intentions do not always breed good policy, and Washington Democrats have wrongfully concluded that the thing that will fix our healthcare industry — the free market — is what broke it.
Speaker Pelosi’s partisan Fewer Cures Act puts politics above patients by calling for less innovation and fewer cures. It also robs hope from patients with Alzheimer’s, diabetes, cancer, ALS and other diseases with no known cure, who are desperately waiting for innovative medical breakthroughs.
When fewer cures hit the market, fewer lives are saved. That’s what Khrystal, whose son Hunter was born with Spinal Muscular Atrophy, is afraid of. She warns that “research would stall under the price controls tied to reference pricing under H.R. 3” and would lead to an “innovation desert.”
Hunter deserves better. Khrystal deserves better. The American people deserve better.
Operation Warp Speed, which under former President Donald Trump delivered three lifesaving COVID-19 vaccines in record time, reaffirmed that our health care system thrives when the government subsides. In lockstep with that ideology, Republican leaders introduced H.R. 19, the Lower Costs More Cures Act, which will encourage innovation, make insulin more affordable, decrease our reliance on China, reduce the cost of cancer treatments and increase price transparency.
As a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, I had the privilege of co-sponsoring this legislation.
This completely bipartisan bill will put the power back where it belongs — with patients and with the free market. We must bring this bill up for a vote and send it to President Joe Biden’s desk.
While this bill is an important first step towards modernizing our health care system, there is another, hidden actor that is artificially driving up prescription drug costs: pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs).
Picture this: you purchase a printer for $100 with a $20 rebate. That $20 is mailed back to you, the customer, bringing the cost of your printer down to $80. In most industries, that’s how rebates work.
In prescription medicine there are rebates, too; but, instead of the purchaser, or patient, getting money back, that money is taken by the PBMs and given back to the insurance companies, which the PBM often owns. PBMs take money from one hand, give it to the other, and patients are stuck with exorbitantly high drug costs.
PBMs have become billion-dollar, Fortune 25 companies by forcing patients to pay double (or more) what their drugs cost to manufacture.
That is highway robbery and it needs to stop. Recently, the Federal Trade Commission voted to investigate PBMs for their harmful practices, and I hope for the sake of patient access that they are finally reined in.
You wouldn’t shop at a grocery store if you couldn’t see the cost of your food. You wouldn’t fill up your tank without knowing the price of gas. Patients shouldn’t be expected to blindly pay prescription drug prices, either.
PBMs block patients’ access to drugs. Democrats are blocking the Lower Costs, More Cures Act from coming up for a vote. We need health care reform, and Republicans have the right prescription for change.
Buddy Carter is the representative for Georgia’s 1st Congressional District.
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